Gear review: BlackRapid R-Strap

I’m not much for camera neck straps.

Y’know, the kind which come with your camera? Usually rubberized on one side so it won’t slip off your shoulder (with the added bonus of making your neck break out in sweat and hives)? Yeah, those.

For both of my camera bodies, the neck strap sits in the box, nicely folded and sealed in its original plastic bag, never to come out.

But I have to attach my camera to myself somehow, so I MacGyver’d together a wrist strap from climbing webbing and those little pinch clips you find on knapsacks.

It worked really well. I still have it, in fact.

However, the time eventually came for me to grow up and get a big kid strap so that I could, among other things, utilize both my hands to gesticulate wildly, adjust tripods, and tie groomsmen’s ties at weddings.

After investigating belt holsters, knapsack strap attachments, and a binocular harness (which actually served me well on a tree-climbing course once), much research brought me to the BlackRapid R-Strap.

Photo by Rob Porter, RMS Media

Photo by Rob Porter, RMS Media

A sling strap design, I first owned the RS-4 (simple design with a single pocket for a battery, cards, etc.), upgraded to the RS-5 (for its many pockets, which I definitely over-filled with too much stuff), then went to the Double R-Strap (for dual-wielding two cameras during concerts and weddings).

You wear a single sling strap diagonally across your chest, and the camera sits at your hip. Freely sliding along that strap is a carabiner, attached to a fastener, tightened into your 1/4-20 tripod mount at the bottom of your camera. You simply grab your camera, lift it up, take your shot, and lower it to your hip again.

The Double R-Strap can be separated into two individual straps, then easily combined back together (one worn over each shoulder) with three connectors: one button, one velcro, one clip.

The double doesn’t come with any pockets so, with much effort, I managed to jury-rigged a number of LowePro Santiago 10 miniature hard cases directly on to the straps. I believe these things are actually meant to store a baby digital camera, but I use them for batteries, cards, earplugs, phone chargers, asprin, eyeglasses screwdrivers, sewing kit . . .

Photo by Rob Porter, RMS Media

Photo by Rob Porter, RMS Media

I bring my camera EVERYWHERE. Anytime I’m out of the house. So this R-Strap has been on my shoulder for years. I’ve never found it uncomfortable, and the weight distribution is nice and even, moreso with the combined double strap holding two cameras.

I’ve been able to freely run, jump, and climb stuff while wearing two cameras (I advise against doing any of those things) with no concern for the safety of my gear.

Safety is another thing: were I, God forbid, to be robbed, it’d be a heck of a contest for someone to easily snatch and/or grab my cameras while attached to me with the R-Strap. Hopefully, I need only hug a telephone pole to avert a possible theft.

I’m on my second Double R-Strap, having replaced my original after many years of daily use when I noticed that the metal swivel connection to the carabiner was wearing down. The individual parts aren’t user-replaceable, but it’s a small price to pay for solidly-secured gear.

For extra peace-of-mind, the Tether accessory adds one more layer of connection to your camera, with a nylon tether to connect the strap to a different part of your camera: one of the slots for that useless neck strap.

While I’ve investigated Hold Fast and Carry Speed (other sling solutions), BlackRapid has my vote for its build, reliability, and ease-of-use.

Photo by Rob Porter, RMS Media

Photo by Rob Porter, RMS Media